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  • VAUGHT: Stoops' end-of-game decision a long term look

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    One perplexing moment in Kentucky's 24-7 loss at South Carolina came when the Wildcats finally scored a touchdown with less than three minutes to play to cut the lead to 24-6.

    If UK had gone for a two-point conversion, it would have cut the lead to 24-8 and cut the lead to 16 points meaning two more touchdowns and two-point conversions would have tied the game.

    It became even more confusing when UK kicked the extra point to cut the deficit to 24-7 but then also went for an onside kick knowing it would take three scores to tie or win the game.

    Kentucky coach Mark Stoops really didn't explain his thought process on the extra point conversion after the game. He remedied that Monday night on his weekly radio show by basically saying he didn't believe in miracles and explained his thought process to Tom Leach.

    "The first thing I was thinking about was getting Ruffalo a kick," Stoops said.

    Matt Ruffalo has taken over as UK's placekicker from Chance Poore, who missed the potential game-winning field goal against Florida. Poore has had trouble with his accuracy this season and also has had a sore leg after getting hit following a field goal try at Mississippi State.

    So Stoops' logic here now is understand.

    But why the onsides kick then?

    "Then why not get 14 (points) and do the best we can," Stoops said.

    He then explained he didn't think seven things -- make three 2-point conversion, recover two onside kicks and score two touchdowns -- in 2 1/2 could happen to let UK tie the game.

    "No. I didnít think that was possible," Stoops said.

    Instead, he thought "long term" letting Ruffalo get experience needed for UK's seven remaining games was more important than a two-point try and recovering an onside kick would have let receiver turned quarterback Lynn Bowden more snaps at quarterback if UK had recovered.

    But then he said this:

    "Letís face it. Seven (points) looks better than six," Stoops said.

    Well, actually not when the other team had 24 points like South Carolina did.